Quitting Juul - The first 72 hours
I was incredibly optimistic about my decision to quit the Juul. As a trained hypnotherapist, I had plenty of confidence in my ability to write a good script for myself, full of compelling suggestions for quitting.
After all, I had quit smoking two packs a day years ago with little trouble. I was confident that this would not be too difficult a feat. A tiny little device like the Juul couldn’t possibly have much of a hold on me. Sure, I was vaping about 100mg of nicotine a day, but I’m strong-willed.
Surely nicotine would be no match for me…
The quitting process started peacefully enough. I recorded my hypnosis session on my phone and finished up my work. At about 4 pm, I took my “final hit” and set my navy blue Juul down on my desk. I looked over at it with little emotion as I settled into my recliner and hit play on my recorder app. I closed my eyes and drifted peacefully into hypnosis.
I came out of hypnotic trance bright-eyed and feeling good. The suggestions left me feeling calm and peaceful about my decision to quit. I packed up my work stuff and tossed the Juul absentmindedly into my purse. I headed home optimistic. I got back and cooked dinner without giving the Juul more than a passing thought. Dinner conversation with my boyfriend was pleasant, and after I finished my food, it hit me. I couldn’t vape the Juul after dinner! I was craving my sweet vapor and a bit of nicotine, but I couldn’t have it. I forgot to account for this in my hypnosis script. I started to get agitated but was confident it would pass soon. Only a few hours until bedtime, and I had a two-hour online class to occupy me. I could do this.
My online course was somewhat useful in distracting me from my Juul cravings. I found myself twirling my pen like I was in a baton twirling competition and determined to win. My classmates were supportive of my efforts to quit. I was grateful my rapidly spinning pen was mostly hidden from the webcam. If they knew what was going on in my head and with my hand, I’m not sure what they would think.
While I put on a brave face for my classmates and my boyfriend, inside, I was screaming for another hit of the Juul.
Oh yeah, that Trainspotting reference I jokingly made as I took my final hit came flooding back. Now I had a new one to add to it.
I was feeling straight-up hardcore withdrawals, and this was not pleasant! Not even bearable. Holy Sugar! How could I possibly be craving a hit this bad?? I was sure the baby would be crawling across the ceiling at any moment (Trainspotting — watch it). I told myself it would be all gone by morning. My boyfriend was starting to freak out at my anxiety level. We decided it was best to go to bed.
I popped a few of these not so tasty CBD bears and doused myself in lavender oil, hoping for a good night’s sleep. Everything would be better in the morning, I promised myself.
Fifteen hours after my last hit, I woke up somewhat tired but relieved not to feel the intense junkie-like cravings I had the night before. I was making progress. I got through my morning routine without major urges to vape, but there was a new side-effect creeping in, brain fog.
I usually enjoy reading at least one chapter of a book in the morning with my coffee, but I found myself unable to concentrate on what I was reading. Not only that, I was super distracted. I had somehow developed a significant case of ADD overnight. I could barely hold a simple conversation with my boyfriend. NOT good at all!
I headed into work, hopeful that with a cup of coffee or two and a change of scenery all would be well. I had a client on the schedule, and I needed my brain to work.
I got to the office and grabbed a cup of coffee.
I was intent on getting a blog post done, and final details worked out for my upcoming workshop.
I’m not sure what happened, but I was unable to focus on any of it before it was time for the client’s appointment.
It was like I went into a time warp.
Luckily, I snapped out of it when my client arrived and held a productive coaching session. I was able to do a few simple tasks after that and decided to listen to my hypnosis recording one more time before calling it a day. I reminded myself, this too shall pass.
I arrived home feeling optimistic and calm. It was Taco Tuesday, so my boyfriend and I were heading to our favorite local Mexican restaurant for a bite. Dinner went well, and we even went out for a drink after. Everything was okay until it wasn’t. We got into an argument over something, I can’t remember what, and the irritable nicotine starved monster inside woke up again. It was bad! So bad, I took 5mg of Valium and went to bed.
I can’t deal with myself in that angry, anxious state!
What happened to calm, peaceful, loving Lorna?
I awoke Wednesday feeling better and calmer. Could it be the Valium? I wasn’t sure, but I also was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I had a few hours to work on that blog post and workshop that I didn’t get to the day before, and then my brother was coming to visit.
I got nothing done on my blog or workshop; in fact, I couldn’t even focus long enough to pay my water bill online.
My brain was getting distracted by email, then Facebook, I would forget what I was doing altogether. That’s it! I needed a list! Surely a list would help.
So, I wrote a To-Do list. And that is all I accomplished before 1 pm when my brother arrived.
I had a lovely visit with my brother and nephew and didn’t think much about vaping. I was able to hold an intelligent conversation and take him to see my office, so I considered it a win. I finished the day with a productive online class and no arguments with my boyfriend. I was optimistic my missing brain cells would come back by tomorrow.
Day 3 — Brain Fog continues
I awoke on day three, feeling good. No real nicotine cravings. I enjoyed a peaceful walk with my dogs in the morning and was hopeful as I settled into my chair for my morning reading. Unfortunately, my new friends (brain fog and ADD) were back. Argh! I can’t live like this. I want my mind back!!
Time to do some research
So, I did what any intelligent person would do in my shoes. I consulted Google. Before you judge, I searched for scholarly research on the subject of nicotine’s effects on the brain and hopefully some answers for this lack of focus problem.
I found this article from Harvard and this one that looked at research on nicotine and found that nicotine is a “brain booster” of sorts. The studies are fascinating if you are into reading scientific information, so have a look if you are so inclined. For this writing, I will boil down the key findings as they relate to my situation. This quote is from the 2nd article link.
“People entering smoking cessation programs, should be warned to expect that vigilance and concentration will probably be reduced when they cease smoking. They should also be advised that nicotine gum will probably aid their concentration / attention, although not to the extent that may have occurred with cigarettes.”
Ahhh! There was a reason for what I was going through and a possible solution. While I was not thrilled at the prospect of breaking my nicotine-free streak, I had no idea how long this diminished brainpower was going to last and was not willing to continue any longer. I needed a Plan B!
From Cold Turkey to Nicotine Phase-Out
The articles referenced the helpfulness of the nicotine patch and gum, so I headed down to my local Walgreens to have a look at my options.
There behind the counter lay a myriad of choices.
I wish I had taken a photo, but my brain wasn’t working. Just trust me, there were a lot!
After staring at them and looking at packages for about 30 minutes, I finally decided on the patches. Since I had already been without nicotine for a couple of days, I decided that I’d start with “Step 2” patches, which release 14mg of total nicotine over 24 hours.
I left the store $45 lighter, yet hopeful that my brain would soon be working again.
The patches definitely helped me! I was able to finish my blog post and pay my water bill online, albeit more slowly than I usually would have. Things were looking up.
I could complete simple tasks again!
Completing simple tasks was a start, but I still needed my fully functioning brain back. I knew I didn’t want to pick the Juul up again, so I evaluated other low-level nicotine options.
A friend recommended the gum, but I wasn’t sure I could deal with it. I couldn’t imagine it tasted any good at all or it would be a risk that little kids would swipe it from their mom’s purse, thinking it was chicklets.
I couldn’t imagine using the lozenges either. I couldn’t even tolerate cough drops when I was coughing my head off.
A low-nicotine vape
That evening, I stopped into my local vape shop, Kure. I explained to the sales reps that I was quitting Juul and needed something low nicotine to go with my patch. They were very sympathetic to my plight, with one of them currently in the process of stepping his nicotine level down and getting off the Juul. They showed me an array of devices that would be a good fit for me. I chose one that was slightly larger than the Juul and had them custom make me a juice flavor in 6mg nicotine.
I did that math that my new setup of 14mg patch and 6mg e-liquid would mean I would get 20mg of nicotine a day at a maximum. A significant drop from 100mg a day with my Juul. Progress, not perfection!
My new plan of attack
My current method for getting off of Juul and nicotine altogether is to use my 14-day supply of 14mg patches with as-needed support from my low nicotine vape. Once the patches are gone, I will switch to the “Step 3” patches at 7mg a day. Once my e-liquid runs out, I will replace it, if needed, with 3mg juice. After the 2–week supply of “Step 3” patches run out, I will use the vape pen at 3mg only if needed. Once the 3mg juice runs out, I will drop to nicotine-free juice, if I still feel I need something tasty or just be done with it.
I’m not proud of the fact that I willingly got myself addicted to something that I couldn’t just quit in a day or two, but I’m not going to get sucked into a pit of shame. I’m going to follow my plan until I’m free.
I do feel very sad for the kids getting hooked on the Juul. I was a grown-ass woman when I made a choice to use it, and I got sucked in. I didn’t entirely realize what I was getting into, and these teens don’t have a clue.
However, I don’t believe the answer lies in banning vaping or devices like Juul.
Pulling them off the market and forcing people to detox in the manner I did would be cruel. Also, it would only put money into the hands of big tobacco and the pharmaceutical companies that make nicotine replacement products as people, like myself, sought relief from withdrawal. Not to mention, many small businesses would fail. That’s just not cool!
Vaping and Juul have their place in society, and adults should be able to choose to use them, just like they are free to decide whether or not to drink alcohol.
Despite my personal experience ending my dependence on my Juul, I do not support the efforts to demonize the company. They make a product that should only be used by current smokers looking to quit. The tactics they used to market their product to those outside that demographic have and continue to be used by liquor, beer, and wine companies without the same backlash. And let’s not forget plenty of teens get their hands on fruity flavored booze as well. Back in the day, I was one of them.
If you are going to make rules for one, they need to apply to all marketers of harmful products.
If I had just stayed with my 3mg vape juice and my standard device, I do not think I would be in this position of struggling to quit. But ramping up from 3 or 6 mg of nicotine a day to 100mg, that is a whole different ballgame. The standard warning of “This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical” does not distinguish between low level and Juul level of nicotine.
Consumers need to be better informed when choosing to use vapor products. More detailed labeling and education need to be readily available on the packaging.
Only time will tell what restrictions will be placed on vaping products and Juul if any. By the time that happens, I will be nicotine free. I will hope for common sense to prevail for the sake of those who want to use the products. In the highly unlikely event, I am called to congress as an “expert,” I will make my story and opinions known.
For now, I will leave you with some final thoughts on my first 72 hours of extricating myself from the grips of Juul.
Quitting Juul is like breaking up with a boyfriend that continues to stalk and harass you into getting back together.
Just like those pesky breakups, you have the choice to get back together with him, which you know is a bad idea, or to stay strong and find new friends to hang out with. I recommend you do your best to stay occupied with more healthy activities and away from him until you both heal and move on.
If you or someone you love is quitting their Juul: Be patient. Give Love. Offer Kindness. Try to be Understanding. It’s not an easy road. They will be grumpy. They may be forgetful. They may have trouble having a conversation.
For me, I just have to remember that I can do anything I set my mind to. It may not look like I thought it would, but I can get there. In this struggle, there is a blessing. I’m going to work on finding it.
If you are quitting Juul or want to, I’d love to hear from you.
originally published on Medium at https://medium.com/@lornamoon/quitting-juul-the-first-72-hours-b8e2b5d49682